Strap in, folks. I’m doing my best to make this short, but it probably just won’t happen. Dan and I recently got back from a 6 day, kid free trip to Puerto Rico, and I’m still in awe of how beautiful and perfect it was.
Before this trip, I did a lot of research and Instagram stalking to try and figure out how we wanted to fill our time in Puerto Rico. Positives of that- I found a lot. Negatives- I found a lot. It was a little overwhelming because there is just SO much to do in this country. I think we narrowed it down well, though. We had so much fun and loved everything we did. And while we moved around a lot, we didn’t book our days with 3-4 things, so we could fully enjoy the things we did do.
I’m going to go over some things to know before traveling to Puerto Rico, a list of what we did, and our exact itinerary. Not to brag or anything, but I’m pretty proud of our itinerary and all we did in just 6 days!
Know before you go
Some things to know, if you don’t already.
- Since Puerto Rico is a US territory, it’s super easy to travel there. No passport required, same currency, same electrical outlets…you pretty much know what to expect. You also don’t need to switch your phone to international which was huge for us!
- Dan and I don’t speak Spanish, but we found almost everyone spoke English (especially in the more tourist-y areas).
- Accommodations are incredibly affordable. We found really decent priced Airbnb’s and hotels, so it’s a super budget friendly place to travel.
- Tourism is one of their main income sources as a country. So many people ask about hurricane Maria and now the earthquakes. The best way to help is by going there! Try to shop and stay local to really help the local economy.
- They have Uber and ride shares, but I think renting a car is the best way to go! We got a car for less than $170 for 6 days through NU Car Rentals. They have really mixed reviews, but we had a great experience!
- Google maps worked great for us the whole time.
- It rained every day we were there. It never lasted long, but we were thankful we packed an umbrella.
What we did
- Old San Juan
- Cueva Ventana
- San Sebastian waterfalls
- El Yunque
- La Zanja
- Bio bay kayak tour
- Catamaran day trip to Culebra
- Cueva del Indio
6 day Puerto Rico itinerary
We landed in Puerto Rico around 11:15. Until we got our luggage and got our car, it was around 1:00 before we were all ready to go. We headed immediately to Old San Juan, which is the historic area. Driving through here is less than pleasant, and it can be hard to find parking. There are two parking garages, so we parked in there- I’d highly recommend that.
The street across from the parking garage has tons of cute restaurants with outdoor seating. Dan and I grabbed lunch at one of those restaurants and just took in the surroundings.
Post lunch, we wandered through some of the streets of Old San Juan. It’s truly such a cute city. The colorful buildings, the flower boxes, the cobblestone streets- if you’re familiar with Charleston, it’s like a whole city of Rainbow Row.
Old San Juan has two historic sites (Castillos) we visited- San Cristobal and El Morro. It’s a $10/per person entry fee, but that gets you access to both places. I’m not going to go into the history of these places because y’all can look that up, but basically, they’re two super old forts that basically protected the city of San Juan. They were finished in the 1730’s, and it is incredible how much of them is still in tact. These were really cool to see and are one of the top tourist destinations in San Juan.
We stayed at Hotel Milano in Old San Juan. Perks- it was affordable and was in a great location in the center of Old San Juan. Cons- our room was TINY and they don’t have a ton of amenities. We honestly did not care about this too much as we were literally just there to sleep.
Puerto Rico has a road in front of the Governor’s house- referred to a Umbrella street, it typically has umbrella’s that line the sky. While we were there, it was lined with a giant Puerto Rico flag. This is a really popular place to take photos. When we we went there the first day, it was insane how many people there were. We got up early on the second day, though, and we were the only ones there. If you care about getting a shot in front of this road, wake up early.
From there, we drove to Cueva Ventana in Arecibo, which was about an hour drive west. We got there for their first tour at 10:30 and didn’t have a reservation, however, I think their hours get earlier and they are busier during the spring and summer. You are not able to do this without a tour! This was a super fun and educational thing, the guides were incredibly knowledgable and the view was unbelievable. The tour takes you through two caves, which are pretty awesome themselves. The second cave leads you to the famous window cave view, which is 100% worth the hype.
After Cueva Ventana, we headed to the San Sebastian waterfalls. Y’all. If you go to these waterfalls from Cueva Ventana, just be warned that the roads are crazy. They are so narrow, so steep, you cannot see around corners, and other people drive in the middle of the road. It was cool to see more rural parts of the country, but Dan was white knuckling it the whole drive. (It was about an hour drive from Cueva Ventana.)
Anyway. San Sebastian waterfalls. These were really worth the trip! (Though I’ll give you that I’m a sucker for a waterfall.) The San Sebastian waterfalls are two waterfalls. They’re a short walk from the parking area (it was $5 to park). Both waterfalls have swimming holes and are the perfect place to just hang out and swim for a few hours. There are rocks you can jump off of, and you can climb up the waterfalls a little bit to jump and stand behind them. These were a little busy, but when we got there around 2:00/2:30, a ton of people were leaving. I think we got there at a good time to avoid huge crowds. There’s also a small bar/restaurant, so we grabbed some food there when we were done. Getting back to Old San Juan was a more straight shot, and it was about a 2 hour drive.
On day 3, we headed east to El Yunque National Forest. This is the only rainforest in the US, so we were so excited to visit!
This place gets crazy! We got there around 10:30, and I wish we had gotten there closer to when it opened at 7:30. Regardless, it was beautiful and we got to see quite a bit! We first stopped at Coco Falls, which is a popular waterfall right along the side of the road.
We drove up a little farther and stopped at Juan Diego falls. This was a short hike, and then there was a waterfall and swimming hole. A little creek ran along the trail most of the way you could probably follow, as well.
There’s also a “secret” trail. It’s a pretty obvious entrance on the right of the falls. However, it’s incredibly muddy and steep, so very few people do it. If you’re game, though, you’ll hike the dense forest, get really muddy, and end up having a private creek area and small waterfalls. The rocks here are SUPER slippery, so just a word of caution. This was not a hike for the faint hearted.
There’s also a touristy look out tower where we stopped. This place was crazy, and there were tour busses coming in and out. If you get there early, I would definitely hit this up first!
Also, a side note- it rains quite a bit in the rainforest. Wear hiking shoes, or shoes with good grip, and pack an umbrella or make sure everything is water proof before spending some time there.
After exploring the rainforest a little bit, we made our way to our Airbnb/bed and breakfast, Casa Flamboyant. This is in the heart of the rainforest. I won’t go into too much detail about it because I have a whole post here (read it, this place is AMAZING), but it’s magical and you should stay here. We hiked a bit here, as well, before just enjoying the pool and the views.
This was a bit of a filler day for us- we left El Yunque and had a bio bay tour in Fajardo that evening. We ended up hearing about a place called La Zanja from a friend and decided to check it out.
Your google maps will want to take you the whole way there, but you’ll stop at Seven Seas beach, find parking, and walk. It’s about an hour walk. Dan and I are both in shape and used to hiking, and it was a solid hour, so don’t think, “oh it won’t take us as long.” It will. It’s also a walk on the beach combined with climbing over rocks combined with slight hiking. I would for sure not have taken our children here.
All in all, totally worth it. You’ll walk over the crest of the hill along the ocean which is just an incredible sight. La Zanja is a little pool behind rocks in a carved out section of rocks. You’ll have to climb down, but then there’s a hollowed out rock where you can put your stuff or just sit and take it all in. Waves don’t crash in as they break on the rocks out in front, but the current does come in strong and pulled us a lot. I’ve heard the water is a lot calmer in the summer, but we did not venture far out at all.
That evening we did a bioluminescent bay tour. There are 7 bioluminescent bays in the world, 5 naturally made, and 3 of them are in Puerto Rico. We went to one in Fajardo as it worked out a lot better with our schedule (there is one in Vieques that we really wanted to go to, but you have to stay overnight on the island). This was really cool to see- my only recommendation would be to sign up for a tour that goes later at night. We went around 6:30 and it wasn’t quite as dark as I wish it had been.
This was our catamaran day! This was such an amazing trip. Culebra is an island off of Puerto Rico, and it’s home to one of the top ten beaches in the world, La Flamenco. It’s an all day catamaran trip that makes two stops. Our first stop was a little off shore where we could snorkel (gear was provided). It was right by the reef which was amazing. They also provided lunch on the boat.
After about an hour here, we rode for 10 more minutes to La Flamenco beach. It was a bit of a swim to the beach, but it wasn’t bad. It was STUNNING with crystal clear waters and the whitest beaches. There were really decent waves, which I honestly wasn’t expecting in a Caribbean island. Dan had a fun time body surfing, though! The trip got back to the marina around 3:30, so this was a pretty full day activity.
That evening we drove to San Juan (the main tourist city, not Old San Juan), about an hour from the marina). This is one of the most popular tourist areas, Condado Beach. There are lots of restaurants and your typical souvenir shops.
We stayed at Casa Wilson Inn– Y’ALL. If you’ve ever seen Gilmore Girls, picture the Dragonfly Inn run by a guy. This was the cutest place! It was so charming, had the most adorable courtyard and little pool, and they had complimentary breakfast in the morning. We loved our night here and would recommend this place to anyone!
This was our last day, so it ended up being a bit random. We walked the beach in the morning and just soaked it up. Afterwards we went for lunch at El Vagón. Y’all- go here for fish tacos. And go before 12:30.
We had about 4 hours before our flight, so we headed out west to Cueva del Indio. This was really cool to see! It’s $5 per person and a super short walk to the cave. It’s amazing views overlooking arches, and then there’s a really cool cave. Word on the street is that there used to be a ladder to climb down. That’s not there anymore, but brave souls can climb through small opening and wiggle down. Dan did this, I was not feeling super adventurous this day. You could still see down into the cave and there are lots of hieroglyphics which was really cool to see. I’m so glad we got out here! This is close to Cueva Ventana, so you could easily couple those together. This was something I wasn’t sure we’d be doing, so we added it on late, but I’m so glad we got to go!
We packed A LOT into 6 days, but there is SO MUCh to do in this gorgeous country, I don’t regret it at all! I truly feel like we got to see so many different parts of Puerto Rico, and I’m so grateful.
And now for just a few more photos, ha! Truly though, I hope if you’ve never been to Puerto Rico, I’ve inspired you to think about it! If you have any questions about our trip, ask in the comments or shoot me an email! If you have been to Puerto Rico, what was your favorite thing?!